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caoshu

in Chinese calligraphy, a cursive variant of the standard Chinese scripts lishu and kaishu and their semicursive derivative xingshu. The script developed during the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and it had its period of greatest growth during the Tang dynasty (618-907). In caoshu the number of strokes in characters are reduced to single scrawls or abstract abbreviations of curves and dots. Strokes of varying thickness and modulation show a great variety of shapes. Caoshu is not bound by rules for even spacing, and characters need not be of the same approximate size; the calligrapher thus has the fullest freedom of expressive movement of line. Caoshu can be subcategorized into three major forms that chronologically transmuted and developed as follows: (1) zhangcao (draft cursive), (2) jincao (modern cursive), and (3) kuangcao (wild, or "crazy" cursive)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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